Diverse Collection of Success Stories Reflected in GPC Commencement

05/07/2012
Contact: rbarnes
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Author: Roger Barnes   

The 1,165 graduates participating in Georgia Perimeter College’s Spring 2012 commencement reflect the diversity, wide reach and appeal of the college.

Graduates ranged in age from 17 to 68 and came to GPC from as far away as Vietnam and Senegal. Two graduates earned prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships which awards up to $90,000 each towards a bachelor’s degree. There were 22 students who collected their GPC associate degrees weeks before they would get their high school diplomas, and, while most of the graduates marched together on the Clarkson Campus, there was one who participated in the ceremony from a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

Andrea Muresan, 22 and a criminal justice major at GPC, was eligible to graduate. But the specialist in the U.S. Army Reserve lacked two classes to earn her associate degree when she found out she would be deployed. GPC faculty and staff worked out a plan for Muresan to take the two classes online from Afghanistan.

GPC President Anthony S. Tricoli recognized Muresan’s family in the audience and presented her degree to her brother while Muresan watched from half a world away. She was Skyped in and watched from a television on the stage.

“Hi mom and dad,” Muresan said through Skype. “Thank you for all of your support. I couldn’t have done it without you. You have always been there for me, helping me to achieve my dreams, however difficult or crazy they may seem. I love you.”

Tricoli also told the stories of graduates Kadiata Sy and Huong Vu, both Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship recipients.

Vu grew up in Vietnam, was ranked first in all of her classes but wanted to study industrial engineering in the United States.

“She researched U.S. colleges and universities and zeroed in on Georgia Tech but wondered how she ever would afford its tuition,” Tricoli said. “Then she discovered she could come to Georgia Perimeter College, and– through our Regents Engineering Transfer Program – take core subjects here and transfer seamlessly to Georgia Tech.”

At age 19 Vu came to Georgia and earned five scholarships to help her attend GPC. She graduated with two associate degrees (mathematics and business administration) and a 4.0 GPA. Vu had just about given up hope of attending Georgia Tech when she learned she won the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship.

“She can now fulfill her dream,” Tricoli said.

When war broke out between Senegal and Mauritania 22 years ago, Sy’s family was placed in a Senegalese refugee camp where she spent the first 11 years of her life. When her family came to America, Sy knew no English and had received no formal education. However, in middle school, she was placed in special classes to learn English and quickly advanced. By high school she was taking Advanced Placement English classes.

“Kadiata came to Georgia Perimeter College thinking she would take a few courses and then transfer,” Tricoli said. “Instead, she has completed two associate degrees— one in political science and one in philosophy— and has an overall GPA of 3.78. With the help of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, Kadiata can fulfill her dream to complete dual bachelor’s degrees from Emory University in political science and Middle Eastern studies. Her goal is to become a human rights attorney.”

Meanwhile, 22 students graduated from GPC before high school.

DeKalb Early College Academy is a partnership between DeKalb County School District and GPC that allows college-ready high school students to spend their first two years of high school at a special school in Stone Mountain and their last two years at GPC Clarkston Campus. The students receive both high school and college credit for Dual Enrollment work. Of the 34 students in this year’s DECA class, 22 completed their associate degree requirements and attended GPC’s commencement.

“Not everyone gets to attend a college graduation weeks before his or her high school graduation,” Tricoli said. “Next fall, you’ll enroll in four-year institutions – not as freshmen, but as juniors. Your hard work has given you a head start and saved two years of tuition.”
Tricoli highlighted several other great stories from this year’s graduating class.

“There are 1,165 candidates for graduation at our institution today,” he said. That’s 1,165 students who came to Georgia Perimeter College seeking more than their status quo, students intent on carving out new futures.

“Graduates, you are the men and women of the hour, and we are proud of you,” he continued. “You always will be alumni of Georgia Perimeter College.”

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Georgia Perimeter College, the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia, serves approximately 27,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit www.gpc.edu.

Cutline: U.S. Army Specialist Andrea Muresan (on screen), stationed in Afghanistan, utilizes Skype to participate in her commencement at Georgia Perimeter College. GPC President Anthony S. Tricoli (center) congratulates Muresan for her hard work in the classroom and her service to her country.

Photo: Bill Roa